The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 87,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
The patent that protects cleansing algorithms of all versions of the XLStylesTool app titled “Removing Style Corruption From Extensible Markup Language Documents” was granted on 10/2/2012. This should further serve as a deterrent for all that try to reverse engineer the apps. My plan to continue to keep corrupted styles issue clean up apps free is working so far.
Refer to the original version of the XLStylesTool user comminity contributed information and “how to” video.
Windows 8 Version Specifics:
All original application features and settings described in the user community contributed documentation, comments and older posts on this site for the most part apply to the Windows 8 version. The user interface has been upgraded to Windows 8 immersive experience and the processing algorithms have been adjusted to run in the sandboxed environment. The reason for this upgrade is the drastic change in how Windows 8 runs older .Net applications in the desktop mode. All unsigned applications get blocked with the message that would stop most users from launching the app the first time. Since I don’t have digital certificate and want to keep the application free, I chose to write Windows 8 version that is very user friendly and is fully trusted by the Windows 8 OS because it is distributed from the Windows App Store. This version of the tool will also be supported on the Windows RT – ARM processor based Windows 8 tablets that will also run MS Office. Old .Net or Silverlight apps won’t work on Win RT. Please take a note of the following differences in functionality:
- There is no “Commit changes and open in Excel” check box. Because of the brokered file system access I can no longer launch the processed file. Also, unlike in the WinForms version of the app all file changes once you click “Process File” button are permanent. Please work with file backups if you need to try out various option combinations on your files.
- Processed file will show noticable drop in size after you preview and save it in MS Excel for the first time after it has been processed. Previously file was opened automatically and Excel was prompting you to save it on file close.
- Error message: “Selected file is not readable. Access is denied.” This error message is specific to Windows 8 and in most cases means that the Excel file that you selected is opened in another application (most likely Excel) or by another user, so the app can’t open it with exclusive rights. Close the file in the app that has it opened and try to scan again.
Original Post History:
UPDATE [7/9/12]: Windows 8 Metro version of the XLStylesTool was submitted to the store to be released on the RP build, but I just found out that it won’t be available until General Availability of the Windows App Store (Windows 8 goes RTM first week of August). They won’t publish any more apps at the store until GA. Please use browser based SL5 app in the desktop mode for now if you are on Win8.
UPDATE [9/24/12]: Updated for Windows 8 RTM app has been submitted to the store at 9:24PM PST. If it gets published I will go through the effort of adding Windows 8 version specific help content in this post. This post is linked to the Help pane to ensure the content is always current.
UPDATE [10/01/12]: The app got certified and published: XLStylesTool for Windows in the Windows App Store . I will update Windows 8 specific info in this post very shortly.
UPDATE [10/22/12]: First wave of Windows 8 users provided their feedback (Thank You!). There was only one reported usability issue so far: users that already had their Excel file open in the Desktop Excel app got “Access is denied…” error message and some didn’t know what to do. I added bolded text bullet in the Help section of the post above and submitted Release 2 to the store. Release 2 will have more explicit error message: it will suggest to close already opened file.
Silverlight 5 XLStylesTool hosted on Windows Azure on a dedicated page got used more frequently than the original browser version of the application placed on the advertisement powered web site. New feature request came in after being on Windows Azure for only one week. The request was to facilitate frequent application use by creating a desktop shortcut. That is not easy to do from my (developer) side without providing installation package which I’m trying to avoid in the first place by using a web browser for app delivery. However, pinning the site to the Windows taskbar is natively supported by the Internet Explorer version 9 and later.
I added very descriptive in my opinion icon and a text tip on the page to make Windows taskbar pinning option obvious, easy and intuitive. I want to thank all blog readers and app users again for their positive feedback and input. It is very inspiring. This particular feature request for browser hosted application makes a lot of sense and hopefully will benefit the users that use the app daily. Another benefit of setting up a taskbar shortcut: many people shrink browser window to fit it to the size of the app, so that they can take advantage of the file drag and drop feature. The taskbar shortcut will retain custom browser window size associated with the shortcut.
Silverlight 5 version is here: XLStylesTool on Windows Azure.
The usage of the browser based Silverlight 4 version of the XLStylesTool has been rapidly increasing since its launch exactly one year ago. Much to my surprise the free hosting server got shutdown without a warning some time yesterday. A bunch of people contacted me. Amazing to see how many people work on corrupted MS Excel files even on the weekends. I had to do something about it fast, so I upgraded the app to Silverlight 5 and moved it to Windows Azure where I currently have free subscription. The app will stay there until things change. All hosting suggestions are welcome. I want to continue offering XLStylesTool for free.
Quick feature overview:
- Native 64 bit support: Silverlight 5 comes with 64 bit runtime
- Speed: my initial tests show that Silverlight 5 version is faster in reading and processing files
- Runtime upgrade/installation: if you don’t have Silverlight 5 installed yet you will be prompted to download it. Bad news: Microsoft publically announced that they won’t be enhancing Silvelright anymore. Good news: current version of Silverlight has amazing features and will be supported until October 2021!
- Mac OS users can use this version just like SL4. System requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
- Firefox 3 or later, Safari 4 or later, or other modern browser
- Windows Azure pretty much guarantees 100% service uptime
- Creating new Windows Azure account, service and application plus performing Silverlight 5 upgrade took roughly 4 hours
Please report any issues and provide feedback.
One of the easiest and safest ways to try out Windows 8 is to take advantage of its new feature: Windows To Go. You can actually boot into Windows 8 from an external USB drive on almost any modern PC. Even a thumb drive would work if it is fast enough (USB3.0 spec). Windows 8 Consumer Preview has a built-in tool that allows you to create bootable USB drive, but you don’t have access to Windows 8 PC yet. You can still do it. Follow the steps listed in this article: How to create a Windows To Go USB drive in Windows 8 [step-by-step]. The article says that you need to have Windows 8 PC, but that is not the case. You don’t need Windows 8 to perform these steps. Everything will work on Windows 7. There is one modification. Step 12 command when setting up BCD entry on the new media using Windows 7 needs to be changed:
bcdboot.exe h:\windows /s h:
[replace "h:" with your USB drive letter]
UPDATE [3/4/12]: Several people asked this question, so I’m updating the post rather than responding individually. The “/f ALL” command line option supplied in the article referenced above is specific to Windows 8 version of bcdboot command line utility. The “/f” command line option specifies the firmware type: UEFI, BIOS or ALL for both to copy boot-environment required files in the respective directories. If you are working with PCs that have BIOS firmware you will be able to setup your bootable Windows 8 USB media using Windows 7 and try Windows 8 on a variety of other PCs and tablets that have BIOS.
I successfully created Windows 8 To Go on an external usb drive using my 64 bit Windows 7 PC from Windows 8 Consumer Preview mounted iso file following the steps above.
Don’t forget the last step: change your BIOS boot sequence to boot from the USB devices first. Windows 8 will have to restart a couple of times to complete the initial setup. You will be better off with the USB taking over the reboot by default versus you trying to hit F12 at the right time to get into the boot menu. Share your experience if you run into any issues and how you solved them. I had none.
UPDATE [4/8/12]: So far no one reported any issues when setting up Windows 8 To Go on an external USB hard drive. Several people asked what thumb drives work with the setup steps above. Here is confirmed list of drives I personally saw working and performing as expected:
- Kingston DT Ultimate 32GB. These were handed out at the Build conference. Apparently they need to be tweaked to report themselves as “fixed”.
- Super Talent RC8 50GB.
- LaCie USB3.0 FastKey. These come in 30GB, 60GB and 120GB. I got 60GB for my personal use. This is the best flash drive I’ve had experience with so far. It is basically a solid state hard drive with DRAM cache. It reports itself as a local disk, so there is no need to tweak anything. It is a tiny bit larger than typical USB flash drive, but not by a lot. Since it is true SSD it won’t fall apart under heavy use. It will be able to handle multiple continuous reads and writes necessary for running operating system off of it. Most flash drives won’t last very long under heavy use.
Please share what drives worked and failed for you in the commentary section to save other people time and money.
Booting issues: using USB2.0 vs. USB3.0 ports. It turns out that current as of this update Intel chipsets don’t yet truly support USB3.0. They use NEC/Renesas controller:
. This means that if you try to boot off of the USB3.0 port you may not succeed. You won’t see your USB drive plugged into the USB3.0 port as a boot option. So, your Windows 8 To Go flash drive has to be USB3.0 spec compliant, but you can’t (yet) use it to boot off of the USB3.0 port. USB2.0 ports work fine. They support minimum of 40MB/s write speed and 60MB/s read speed required to run Windows 8 To Go.
This KB2553085 article is specific to Excel 2007. You can see it in the not so easy to find “Applies To” part of the article if you choose to navigate to it and expand the box. Note that it works in conjunction with KB2553026 that is already covered in this blog. IMPORTANT: after you apply the fix you still need to clean out already created files with the XLStylesTool.
Please share your experience with this fix if you end up using it. It will help everyone who reads this blog. I reached 600+ hits per week, so your comment and input will be seen and appreciated by many people affected by this very frustrating issue.